A family reunion in Thailand…

From Laos we took an overnight sleeper train to Bangkok, where we met up with Alex’s parents Ken and Wendy, who had flown to Thailand from England. We stayed for 5 days in Bangkok to do some sightseeing. We started with Bangkok’s busiest tourist attraction and took a water taxi along the river to The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. The palace was incredibly ornate with golden stupas, bejewelled Yaksha and Nagas and mosaic clad Wats which glittered in the sunlight. It was probably the busiest tourist attraction we have been to on our trip so far; however, despite being incredibly touristy, it was still extremely impressive.

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One of the highlights of our stay in Bangkok was ‘Cooking with Poo.’ This was a Thai cooking class run by a lady called Poo. To answer your questions… “No” poo wasn’t one of the ingredients used and “Yes” the name was one of the reasons that we chose it! Our lesson started with a trip to the Klong Toey Market, which is one of the largest food markets in Bangkok. As with most markets in Asia, the market was an assault on the senses and this one had an interesting wet market section, which included bags of live frogs, buckets of live eels and basins of live turtles.

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After our market trip we travelled to Poo’s kitchen in the Klong Toey Slum. From humble beginnings, she got help from a community initiative to start a cooking school in her home and has learnt to speak English, published her own cookbook and has even travelled to England to cook with Jamie Oliver. When we arrived we were issued with aprons emblazoned with the slogan “I cooked with POO and I liked it” and then set to work cooking three different Thai dishes. We started out making a Spicy Beef (or Mushroom) Salad, then learnt how to make a delicious Pad Thai and finally finished with a Thai Green Curry. If anyone wants to try the recipes, they are very tasty and fairly simple to make. Just let us know and we can email them to you.

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We had a couple more days exploring different areas of Bangkok including visiting Banglamphu and the Chatuchak Weekend Market, which is one of the largest markets in the world. It had everything you could ever need and more, including a pet section with Stetson Hats and matching sets of (four) shoes for dogs! We also had some fun nights out in the evenings. We went to China Town and took a high speed Tuk Tuk ride from the station, with four of us crammed into one tiny Tuk Tuk. Another night we wandered around the red light district of Patpong, where we saw a few of Bangkok’s famous Ladyboys. We finished up with sunset cocktails overlooking the iconic view of Wat Arun.

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From Bangkok we travelled to Khao Yai National Park where we had a few days of wildlife spotting. The national park was a varied mix of dense jungle and open grasslands which supported a wide variety of animals and birds. We were incredibly lucky to see both black and white Lar Gibbons, as well as seeing Elephants, Samba Deer and Giant Squirrels. The park is full of varied birdlife and we got to see lots of colourful bird species through the binoculars. One of the most impressive birds we saw was the Great Hornbill, which has a wingspan of one and a half metres. It’s so big that you can hear the noise of its wings flapping as it flies over. On our first day as we were waiting outside the visitor centre, two Porcupines came running straight towards us! Later that evening we went on a night drive where we were lucky to see two Civets, a Binturong and a large Python.

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After spending one night in the town of Trat, our next destination was the Thai island of Koh Kood, where we stayed in some bungalows by the beach. We spent some time relaxing and swimming and snorkelling in the sea and finished the days by watching the colourful sunsets from the bar.

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We returned to Bangkok, where sadly we had to say goodbye to Ken and Wendy and from there we took a flight to Chiang Rai in the North of Thailand…

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